The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Clem Snide / Wednesday, May 19

Judging by Clem Snide's newest record, The Meat of Life, it'd be safe to say singer Eef Barzelay is barely hanging from a thread these days. Seemingly every song involves hapless, lovelorn, terminally cursed characters who have to take long, hard looks at themselves and their relationships with each other, making for an awkward tangled-up tango of mistakes, missteps, and missed expectations. Lyrically, Barzelay is a master of brutally honest observations of typical mundane, mid-life American domestica (I'd put money on at least one song being about a blowup in Ikea), ultimately transforming these snapshots of others' lives into sweeping, gorgeous anthems that transform neuroses into beautiful poetry. With the Heligoats, Cady Wire. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $12. GREGORY FRANKLIN

((Low Hums)) / Wednesday, May 19

Even if the distorted, eerie songs by Seattle minimalist psych-rock act the ((Low Hums)) didn't have titles like "Peyote Gunfight" or "Lost on the Trail," they'd still evoke stark desert landscapes, gunslinging cowpokes, and violent scenes straight out of Deadwood. The throaty vocals, ominous cello, and shrieking distortion make for a tense listening experience, but the psychedelic riffs balance the creepiness. It's the sort of atmospheric music ideal for telling harrowing ghost stories around the embers of a campfire, and the dynamics of the music read like just such a story: There's as much weight in the absences and little atmospheric accents (whistling, wind) as there is in the heavy guitars. With Whalebones, Hard Drugs. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 8 p.m. $7. SARA BRICKNER

Soulive / Wednesday, May 19

Depending on how loudly you play it, Soulive's organ-fueled jazz/funk can serve either as a party-ready rave-up or a chill lounge backdrop. Over the decade of its existence, the trio has fiddled a lot with format. Singers have come and gone, and everything from dub-step to atmospheric post-rock noodling has popped up onstage and on record. Through it all, Soulive's raison d'être has remained the same—to move people, literally and figuratively. The Hammond swells, the guitar cuts like a hot knife through funk-butter, and the beat makes your body move in five directions at once. With Staxx Brothers. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. NICHOLAS HALL

Magic Mountain / Thursday, May 20

For all his talent and success, Grant Olsen is still intent on anonymity. Playing under his childhood nickname in Arthur & Yu and changing the name of this side project from Magic Mountain to White Lightning and back, Olsen seems intent on keeping his fans guessing where they can see him next. Hopefully by the time he gets around to releasing a record featuring his simply beautiful acoustics and instantly recognizable vocal—which in a single emotional crack can rival the chills of a lover's breath on your neck—he'll just settle on his own name and accept his destiny. With the Moondoggies, Grand Hallway. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

See Me River / Thursday, May 21  See Rocket Queen.

Skerik's Syncopated Taint & Charlie Hunter Trio / Thursday, May 20

Skerik's many projects range from the shamelessly retro (McTuff) to the strenuously strange (Critters Buggin'), but the Taint's always been right in my sweet spot—creative, horn-driven, acoustic groove-jazz with the sophisticated techniques of Mingus and the Meters' sense of fun. It helps, too, that Skerik's brought together the very top tier of Seattle players and given each their perfect setting. Seven years ago, the band played at the grand opening of the Triple Door; tonight, the band returns to celebrate the release of a live recording of that long-ago performance. The great Charlie Hunter, who does that guitar-and-bass-line thing, among other tricks, will open with his trio. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $17 adv./$19 DOS. All ages. MARK D. FEFER

Weekend / Thursday, May 20

Ryann Donnelly is a woman completely possessed by music. Her electric voice, fixed stare, and Ian Curtis–inspired movements made her last band, the goth-punk-meets-new-wave Schoolyard Heroes, a sensation among Seattle's youth. She brings those same qualities to Weekend, a joint venture with Past Lives' Mark Gajadhar. Donnelly may have been Seattle's best shot at a reinvigorated post-punk scene, which makes her recent announcement that she's going to grad school in New York City a major letdown. She quit Blood Cells, her experiment in post-hardcore with members of SYH, in April, and her last show with Weekend before leaving for school is June 10. But Donnelly's not done with music altogether. She says she's heading to L.A. later this month to record "new songs, and a few of my favorite Weekend tracks for a full record of pop gold." With Lisa Dank, Spurm. Can Can, 94 Pike St., 652-0832. 9 p.m. PAIGE RICHMOND

Bare / Friday, May 21

The 1997 reissue of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds included a disc of 11 songs with all the instrumentation stripped out, leaving only those terminally sunny, ethereal vocal lines. It's a fascinating way to appreciate the innate musicality of the human voice, a characteristic that gets somewhat lost when it's married to chords and percussion. On the other hand, it's an incredibly vulnerable experience for a vocalist, which is why the brave souls participating in tonight's entirely a cappella evening deserve major props for essentially getting naked onstage tonight. With members of the Moondoggies, Grand Hallway, the Maldives, Goldfinch, Pablo Trucker, Shenandoah Davis, Caleb Quick. Fremont Abbey, 4272 Fremont Ave. N., 701-9270. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

Tim McGraw / Friday, May 21  See preview.

KEXP's Hood to Hood / Friday, May 21

Apparently West Seattle wakes up early—or at least KEXP is hoping so, since they're kicking off their ultimate block party at 7:30 a.m. But what they have ensured is that the lineup, fittingly filled with West Seattle natives, has something for everyone, from the Chief Sealth High School marching band and superhero rapping duo Victor Shade to troubadour Damien Jurado and shoegaze-popster Erik Blood. If the music draw isn't enough, the party also includes DJ sets at venues across the 'hood, plus musical family activities at Cupcake Royale for the kids. And with the King County Water Taxi offering free trips to the show from Pier 50 downtown, your excuses not to find your way to West Seattle are seriously dwindling. With Motopony, Head Like a Kite, the Lights, Rat City Brass. Easy Street Records, 4559 California Ave. S.W., 938-3279. 7:30 a.m. Free. All ages. See kexp.org for more details. NICK FELDMAN

The Tripwires / Friday, May 21

Based on pedigree alone, the members of the Tripwires are some of Seattle's finest showdogs; they've done time with the Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5, and the Screaming Trees, to name a few. They're built from the model of the classic, underrated power-pop band: the kind that boils over with sharp, lovesick lyrics as self-deprecating as they are clever, with a perfect amount of musical wiggle room for the band to explore the outer limits of the classic '60s and '70s pop landscape. The Tripwires absolutely shine when they pull off gorgeous three-part harmonies, and sound just as vibrant bopping around onstage as they would blasting from, say, an 8-track in a just-waxed vintage Dodge Charger. With the Fucking Eagles, Hotels. Skylark Cafe, 3803 Delridge Way S.W., 935-2111. 9 p.m. Free. GREGORY FRANKLIN

The Basements / Saturday, May 22

Seattle's the Basements may claim to specialize in garage-rock covers of songs about basements (Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto's "In the Basement," the Ramones' "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement"), but the band made a more jangly debut at last year's REVERB festival. You could call this a Young Fresh Fellows side project, considering half the band comprises YFF vets Kurt Bloch and Jim Sangster, but those who've witnessed the Basements' intermittent live performances know that the project has its own separate, fun little identity. This is largely due to Carmella's (of Thee Sgt. Major III) fabulous, soulful vocals. It'd be nice to hear some original basement-themed numbers from these Seattle rock-scene vets. With The Witness, Yoko Knievel. Blue Moon, 712 N.E. 45th St., 675-9116. 10 p.m. $5. SARA BRICKNER

Frog Eyes / Saturday, May 22

The Canadian experimental rock outfit Frog Eyes makes foggy, distorted music, replete with crashing percussion and the occasional shimmering piano melody. Listening to last month's Paul's Tomb: A Triumph feels a bit like getting caught in a sudden turbulent rainstorm. The band's fifth full-length is a heavy piece of work—epic, spacious indie rock on the scale of Wolf Parade (WP keyboardist Spencer Krug was a founding member of Frog Eyes), with frontman Carey Mercer's distinctive voice piercing through the songs' long instrumental breaks—kind of like a beacon in all that fog. With Plants & Animals, Lost in the Trees. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $13. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Nas & Damian Marley / Sunday, May 23

Nas and Damian Marley play the roles of motivational speakers on their collaboration, Distant Relatives, an LP that uplifts without inducing yawns and rolled eyes. The wave of hype the legendary MC and the son of a legend rode to the album's release could've been a kiss of death for lesser artists—expectation being synonymous with disappointment in the music biz. But Nas and Marley stand tall with youth-oriented anthems ("Promised Lands," which mirrors Nas' "I Can" off 2002's God's Son) and continent-centric calls-to-arms ("Africa Must Wake Up"). It's not all motivation and revolution, however. "As We Enter" boogies with rapid rhyme-trading, and "Patience" burns slowly with a global influence buoyed by Marley's patiently delivered poetry. With Nneka. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $38 adv./$42 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPP

Trainwreck / Sunday, May 23

Backstage at last year's Lollapalooza, amid the likes of LiLo, Joe Perry, and Lou Reed, the celebrity sighting that really sent the kids all aflutter was of Jack Black's lesser-known but equally hilarious Tenacious D sidekick Kyle Gass. With his latest band, Trainwreck, Gass has birthed a chicken-fried-steak-flavored hybrid of Skynyrd and Spinal Tap. Songs like "Milk the Cobra" and "Brodeo" (sporting the lyric "We've got Jean Claude van Damme as our Broverlord") showcase KG's stellar sense of humor, the kind which can only be fostered by going through high school with Gass as your last name. With We Wrote the Book on Connectors. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Music Works Jazz Orchestra / Monday, May 24

Could jazz bands be the next glee clubs? Could classically trained teenage guitarists, horn players, and percussionists soon star in a prime-time show that depicts the drama of their daily struggles to learn Duke Ellington's hits? It's hard to predict, but there's no doubt that the Music Works Jazz Orchestra has the chops and the compelling backstory to make it big. Music Works Northwest is a Bellevue-based nonprofit school that offers music classes to students of any age and ability, and their Jazz Orchestra embodies this same eclectic, collaborative spirit. There's a mix of older and younger musicians in the group, and founder Paul Harshman is also the band director at Shorewood High School. With Lynnwood High School Jazz Bands. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $15 adults/$12 students. PAIGE RICHMOND

Broken Bells / Tuesday, May 25

One would think that the collaboration between Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), the producer who brought us Gnarls Barkley, and James Mercer, the songwriter who brought us the Shins, would have been an innovative and genre-breaking affair. Instead, Broken Bells released a record of lo-fi, anemic pop songs that cruised up the Billboard charts on the backs of bankable names, not musical ingenuity. Their live show is said to bring about as much (or little) action as the record, a notion that doesn't seem to be fazing anyone—enough of you were willing to spend $35 a pop for this show to sell out. With the Morning Benders. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. Sold out. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

 
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